Should Panel Moderators “Practice” Moderating their Panel?

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Let’s take a poll:
How many of you “practice” moderating your panel like you would for a speech?  Most savvy presenters map out the speech, write the dialogue, and practice several times, while editing their notes.  Finally, they rehearse the speech the whole way through so there is no need for notes, cue cards, or teleprompter.

Do panel moderators do that too?

My anecdotal answer is no, not really.  Not to the extent of a full-blown speech.

So why is that?  The event itself is just as important.  You are asking the participants to invest their valuable time with you.  Nowadays, there is a substantial probability that someone is taking a video and/or tweeting about the event – saving the good, bad, and the ugly for posterity.

Once you have done all the planning, take the time to legitimately practice the flow of the panel discussion.  Some bits should be memorized (your introduction of the topic and the panelists as well as the closing).   Others you need to vocalize (the sequence of questions) so you are completely comfortable with them and can easily shift them around.  And when you “switch gears,” practice the transitions from one segment to another.

The point of all this practicing is so that you, as the panel moderator can be completely present to the conversation in the moment – making sure that the audience is getting great value from the conversation.  And as a result, you’ll look brilliant!

Related Articles:

How Moderators Can Manage Awkward Audience Comments

How to Create GREAT Questions for Your Panelists to Answer during Your Panel Discussion

Panel Discussion Tip #185 with Jeffrey Hayzlett: Finishing Panel Discussions


For more resources on moderating panel discussions, visit the Knowledge Vault. To have Kristin moderate your next panel, visit the Powerful Panels official website.

Kristin ArnoldKristin Arnold
KRISTIN ARNOLD, MBA, CSP, CPF | Master, high-stakes meeting facilitator and professional panel moderator is on a quest to make all panel discussions lively and informative. Check out her free 7-part video series on how to moderate a panel and other resources to help you organize, moderate, or be a panel member.

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